Start of Camp Twilhaar

Just before World War II, Ter Horst, manufacturers of jute in Rijssen, sold parcels of the Twilhaar-forest to the Dutch State. On one of these pieces of ground, the Dienst voor de Werkverruiming (Provision of Additional Work) founded a workcamp to put away Dutch men who had become unemployed. The German occupier wasn't very fond of men without work and decided they had to carry out heavily labor in Rijkswerkkampen (labor camps).

Camp Twilhaar was one of these camps and it consisted of two large barracks, with a capacity of nearly hundred beds. Besides that, there was a canteen and a barrack, which contained a kitchen and the living of the controller of the camp.

The men who were put here, far awy from home, had to cultivate waste land on the Sallandse Heuvelrug. This work was quite heavy and was supervised by employees of Staatsbosbeheer (State Forest Service).

The first group of men at work in Camp Twilhaar came from The Hague and Scheveningen. They were fishermen and men from ocean-going trade and home trade. The Germans didn't allow these men to go out on sea anymore and they became unemployed. They stayed in Camp Twilhaar until about April 1942.

First jews

In April 1942 the controller of camp Twilhaar, Henner Hoijmann, received the message that plans had been changed for his forced labor camp. The German occupier had decided that Twilhaar had become a cog in the machine to solve the jewish problem. July 1942 brought the first jewish men from the city of Groningen to camp Twilhaar. The jewish men in the camp near the village of Nijverdal mainly came from this city in the north of the Netherlands. Some came from Amsterdam and Tilburg, probably from other cities as well.

Under the supervision of two employees of Staatsbosbeheer (State Forest Service) these jewish men were also forced to cultivate waste land. After the war, a part of the Sallandse Heuvelrug over there was named Jodenbos (Jewish forest) as a hommage to these men.

October 2nd 1942, these forced laborers were getting out of camp Twilhaar and under German military guarding they had to walk to the station of Nijverdal, from where a train brought them to Durchgangslager Westerbork. From there they were deported to Eastern Europe where most of them were murdered in camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Families from coastal district

After the jews left Twilhaar, the camp probably was empty for a couple of months. Then citizens from the coastal district found shelter in Twilhaar, mainly from the area around Katwijk and Noordwijk.

The German occupier founded the Atlantikwall and needed the homes near the coast to put up their militairy men. Whole families became roofless and needed a place to sleep. Those of them who didn't succeed in finding a place to live were put away in camps like Twilhaar.

We know some of the people who spent some time in the Nijverdal camp and they've told us their stories. But we'd like to meet more of these people, who can give us a more complete image of camp Twilhaar.

At the end of the war, the village of Nijverdal was heavily bombed by allied airplanes. The allied airforce was trying to destroy the launch-installation of the VI-rockets in the forest west of Nijverdal, but they've missed their targets. Many Nijverdal citizens lost their lives and parts of the village were completely destroyed. Some of the families who then became homeless also found shelter in camp Twlihaar.

At some point after the war the camp was cleared and broken down. All that is left are some photographs and a few memories. Most of the Nijverdal citizens now probably never heard of camp Twilhaar.